Zoho and the Bottom of the Software Pyramid

Last week Sridhar Vembu the CEO of Adventnet, makers of the Zoho suite of software, was featured on the Economist’s Face Value. This may seem like a big deal for the CEO of $60 M company (The Indian CEO featured before Sridhar was TCS’s Ramadorai). But you have to hand it to the Economist. For a magazine that covers politics, economics and business, it has the pulse of the software industry. What Zoho is attempting to do can be game-changing for business software.


Gridstone and the Top-Down Approach to the Semantic Web

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What does Gridstone Research do? If an Equity Analyst asks this question, the answer we give is what our home page says,

Using cutting-edge technology, Gridstone assembles, analyzes and structures unstructured company information into financial data, guidance, operational data and structured text. Information that could take hours to assemble is available at your fingertips, at our website or directly in Excel.

This describes the end-user benefit. But for those who are interested in such matters, it still doesn’t answer the question of what we actually do.


Gridstone Excel Add-in

We just released a very important product – an Excel Add-in that allows Analysts to pull in our rich data directly into their spreadsheets. Excel is very central to the work flow of our users. We think that this is probably the easiest-to-use Excel Add-in in the Financial Information business.

I whipped up a Slidecast about it. Even if you are not connected to the Financial world, take a look at it. I think it is effective and I spent about a day on it and that too because I tried many different approaches until I hit my stride. Feedback is welcome. If you’re interested in the tools I used, leave a comment.

Company of One

The English word company means “A group of persons”. I would surmise then that the business entity “company” got its name because it comprised of a group of persons engaged in a common business purpose.

An individual can start and run a company all by herself. There is nothing new about that. What is however changing is just how much that company can achieve with a small team. A few individuals can create a company with millions of dollars in revenues and tens of millions of dollars of value.


Notes from the CRV conference

Spent a couple of days last week at the Charles River Ventures conference. (CRV is the lead investor in Gridstone). The attraction of the conference to me was to meet other entrepreneurs and to meet a great roster of speakers. As it turned out, the former objective wasn’t quite fulfilled, for good reason. But the speakers made the trip more than worthwhile.


Hiring in India

Our startup Gridstone Research is now about 140 strong in Mumbai. So far hiring in India has been a mixed bag. Some hard work that has paid off. And some frustration.

We have broadly two streams in India. Research and Technology. The Research Operations carry out the analysis which goes as content in our product. The software for the product is developed by Technology.


Wanted: VCs for a Flat World

India is a hot venture destination. My earlier post about TiEcon Delhi talks about the excitement I could sense amongst both the entrepreneurs and the VCs at the conference. In the same post, I also outline how I think the venture scene in India will play out – very different from what it looks like today in the US. Much of the VC community does not realize just how different it will be and is leaving big underserved gaps in the market.


Notes from TiEcon Delhi

I attended TiEcon Delhi for a day in October. The energy in the main hall and the deal-making in the lobby outside, spoke volumes about how hot the Indian venture scene is. I met old friends as well as some new entrepreneurs. And came away with much to chew on.

Startups in India have opportunities and challenges that are quite different from the ones in the US. Ditto for VCs. A few observations:


Indian startups making a mark

Last week’s post on IndiaPost raised quite a storm of comments. Some of them were supportive of my central thesis that for Indian citizens to get better public services the issue of labour flexibility within public service organizations is the most important one to address. Many were not. Of these some thought that IndiaPost has actually done well, given the circumstances, and that I was looking at the glass half-empty.

So for a change, let’s look at the glass half-full. Let’s talk about some Indian startups that are being noticed.